Time for Some Theology

If you’re in the market to study theology, then I’ve got some opportunities for you.

At the M.Div. level, I am teaching Introduction to Theology next fall at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. (Click through to read more about the course and see the book list.) I’ve been named Professor in the Practice of Theology at UTS (still an adjunct position, which suits me). I’m really excited about teaching this survey course. It’s a hybrid course, so it only meets three times — all day on three Mondays — and otherwise it’s online. So if you’re considering an M.Div., this is a good way to dip your toe in the water. (More news coming soon on a new venture in theological education here in the Twin Cities.)

If you’re in the market for a D.Min., there are a couple option, both at Fuller Theological Seminary. First, I’ll be teaching a week-long course on Spirituality and the Doctrine of Creation in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in September. This class takes place in canoes and around fire pits and has an amazing reading list. More about this course in the video above.

Secondly, I’ll be starting a new D.Min. cohort through Fuller next spring. This is a great way to get a D.Min., since we spent 3+ years together. My first cohort is just now working on their final projects, and the 10 of us have grown very close. Several readers have written over the past couple years and asked when the new cohort is happening, and the answer is now!

The McLaren Lectionary

BMac’s new book comes out today. I had the opportunity to give it a close read last winter and to provide feedback on it. My endorsement reads,

“This is Brian McLaren at his best, and I think this is what so many readers want from him: Deeply rooted in scripture, yet offering fresh, even radical, readings. WE MAKE THE ROAD BY WALKING will surely be a benefit and blessing to many.”

I stand by that. Over the years, I’ve read all Brian’s books and heard him give dozens of talks. He’s good at so many things, but I think he is absolutely on his game when he’s interpreting the Bible. His approach is both pastoral and radical, a difficult mix to maintain. He brings fresh and often unexpected interpretations.

What Brian is not is an unredeemed liberal, bent on demythologizing the text. He takes the text seriously and doesn’t get hung up on historical-critical arguments. Astute readers will see the influence of René Girard, whom Brian has immersed himself in over the last couple years.

I did lobby for a new title, The McLaren Lectionary, knowing that Brian was far too humble to agree. But that’s really what this book is: Brian taking the reader on a journey from the beginning of the Bible to the end, in short, digestible chapters. It can be read straight through, as I did, or better yet, on the bedstand as a nightly or weekly devotion.

If you’ve been influenced by Brian’s past books — I’m guessing that’s just about all of you — I encourage you to get ahold of this one to see a comprehensive McLarenesque hermeneutic of the love-and-redemption story of the Bible.

Book Update

 

I write on a MacBook Air, just like this guy.

Some authors have the luxury of holing away and writing full time. Fellow Edinan, the late Vince Flynn, went to a rich guy’s pool house every day and wrote for 8 uninterrupted hours (this was before wireless, and he’d jammed a screwdriver into his laptop’s ethernet port to fight the temptation of the internet).

I, however, am not such an author. Like most authors, I write in fits and starts between my several jobs, grading papers, coaching a baseball team (we won last night!), and other commitments. As such, I haven’t looked at the manuscript in a week. But today I revise chapters 3-5.

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An Ode to Alice

If, like me, you’re in your 40s, you hung out with the Bradys every day after school — their astroturf backyard, their jejune peccadilloes, and their always-there, always-winsome housekeeper, Alice. Hank Steuver, a fellow GenXer and my favorite pop culture columnist, has penned a wonderful piece that is part tribute to Alice (Ann B. Davis), and part homage to growing up in the 1970s. Here’s a taste:

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Can NT Wright Have It Both Ways?

On the issue of Hell, NT Wright seems to be on a lonely island. (Sophie Gerrard, Christianity Today)

Keith DeRose doesn’t think so. DeRose, a philosopher at Yale and correspondent with YFB, has posted a retort to Wright’s posture of both emphasizing the “Kingdom-Now” theology that he’s made famous, while holding onto a belief while holding onto a belief in a grim fate for unbelievers, set at their deaths. Among the strange (and not particularly biblical) claims that Wright makes regarding Hell is that the lost will devolve to a kind of subhuman state and will thus be beyond human pity.

There are other problems, too. Here’s Keith:

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Why There’s No “Third Way” on Gay Marriage

Rachel & Ratchet and Courtney & Tony are legally married on 11/11/13. Photo by Caroline Yang

Every week now, there’s news about gay marriage. Today it’s that Oregon is allowing same sex marriages. Last week it was the Religious Broadcasters Association forcing Multnomah Publishers to resign from the trade group.

It strikes close to home for many of us as well. I regularly hear from readers who wither A) are gay and can’t get married in their state, or B) have recently gotten married and are overjoyed. In my own personal case, last month I lost out on a potential six-figure grant from a church foundation exclusively because of my affirmation of marriage equality — someone connected to the foundation didn’t like my stance.

I’ve got a few friends to graciously and tenaciously hang on to the idea that a third way can be found on this issue, a middle ground between affirming gay marriage and condemning it. And I agree with them, to a point. I know many churches that are studying the issue — the church council is reading books and discussing it; the pastor is offering Wednesday night classes, etc. Those are practices of a middle ground, but that middle ground is necessarily temporary.

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There’s a Disturbance in the Evangelical Force (Hint: It’s the Gays)

First, Fred tells us that Steve Chalke’s fantastic and robust Oasis ministry has been kicked out of the UK evangelical alliance.

Now CT reports that longtime evangelical publisher Multnomah has been forced out of the National Religious Broadcasters Association because it allowed some of its employees to work on Matthew Vines’s book for sister publisher, Convergent.

That’s right, if you allow your employees to work on a book that doesn’t fit your ideology, you are no longer evangelical.

On the webcast (above) about Vines’s book earlier this week, I closed by saying that I don’t think it’s possible to find a reasonable “third way” in the gays-and-church debate. Here’s another example of why.

I’m begging those of you who are trying to make changes from the inside, quietly laboring away in evangelical organizations and ministries, to open your eyes to what’s really happening.

Can You Be Evangelical and Gay-Affirming?

I don’t think so — at least not yet — and I’ll try to make my case on a live webcast on Wednesday:

Join us by registering here.

Seminaries: Training People to Repair Phone Booths

In the video above, the realities of seminary today are explicating, and it should be a chilling watch for most anyone involved in the business. It is for me, teaching as I do at one mainline seminary and one evangelical seminary. And I’ve watched the ponderous process of curriculum change at both of those seminaries, overseen by the Association of Theological Schools, an organization not known for its flexibility.

These are hard times. Change will need to come a lot quicker than it is…

Kirk Cameron Says Forget Gay Marriage, Let’s Go After the Fornicators!

 

Kirk says the threat to marriage isn’t outside the church, it’s inside the church:

When people get too focused on redefining marriage, you’re distracted from the bigger problem – fornicators and adulterers… If the people sitting in the pews are fornicators and adulterers, the church will destroy marriages much more quickly than those outside the church. When God’s people mock marriage, God doesn’t take that lightly…I think the greatest threat to marriage is not other people’s definition of marriage. The church isn’t taking God’s definition of marriage seriously. It’s not other people sabotaging marriage that’s the problem.

Read the rest.


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